HUNDREDS of school children crowded Pirtek Park in Singleton on Tuesday to meet the Newcastle Knights before Saturday’s Voice for Mining family day at Hunter Stadium.
Introduced by former Knights player Steve Crowe, an almost full roster of first grade Knights took more than 300 Singleton Public School and Australian Christian College students through a series of exercise and football drills.
They were watched by parents and families from around the Hunter, as well as disability service providers and their clients, who were thrilled to meet their sporting heroes.
Afterwards the players took time out to sign thousands of autographs.
Another former high-profile Knight, Bill Peden, now a control room operator with Yancoal’s Abel underground mine, was on hand to present the team with their orange high-viz jerseys for Saturday’s round-four match against the Penrith Panthers.
The training day was part of the inaugural Hunter Coal Festival.
Festival spokesperson Shane Davey said the festival was progressing well with its aim of uniting the community and the mining industry.
Knights coach Rick Stone said being ‘‘a real community club means getting out into the community as often as we can’’.
He said mining was a major part of the Hunter economy and there were strong similarities between mine workers and footballers when it came to trust and teamwork.
NSW Minerals Council communications director Scott Keenan said Saturday’s game would be the fifth time the Knights had played in hi-viz jerseys.
He said Saturday’s match had been timed to coincide with the state election, and to give the pro-mining public the chance to show its support.
He said the Knights were also wearing the hi-viz uniform in Sydney on April 10 against the Cronulla Sharks.
With the Knights having won their first three matches, everyone was in high spirits.
Singleton year six student, Loius Moore, and his year five friend Ethan Van Zyl, said they had a great time meeting the Knights.